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Not Sure How To Set Up A Weekly Money Routine? Read This Now.

Not Sure How To Set Up A Weekly Money Routine? Read This Now.

When it comes to financial matters, sometimes we wish they would just go away. Sometimes it’s a matter of keeping it all organized: between the student loan bills, the house payment and the car payments, it can seem overwhelming. Other times, it’s about stretching what little there might be to go around. Whatever the issue, it’s important to set up a routine with your money. Setting up a routine sets you up for success and keeps you from being surprised each month that the Internet bill really has to be paid, yet again.

Here are some steps you can take to optimize your weekly money spending (and receiving) routine.

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1. Look over your expenses.

Go through each of your monthly expenses and categorize them. It’s important to set up priorities and determine how you want to pay your bills. Paying different bills each week will help you do this. If your rent is due on the first of the month, schedule that payment for the last week of every month and so forth. If you expect to pay a certain amount in bills at end of each week, you’ll be more mentally prepared for it when it happens.

2. Pay bills as they arrive.

Instead of blasting out a bunch of cash every payday, pay each bill as it arrives. You can do this very easily by automating your bill payments. Paying your bills this way keeps you from ever “missing” that money. However, send yourself a reminder before it happens! If you forget and you take that money out ahead of time, you might overdraft your account. Paying your bills on time keeps your credit score up and helps you keep ahead of any late fees or extra charges you might incur otherwise.

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3. Go over the budget and look for places to save.

Once you go over your expenses, if you feel like you’re struggling to make ends meet, look for places where you can save. If you’re not sure if there are expenses you can cut, try and write down all of your expenditures for one month in a notebook. All of them. Every latte you buy at a coffee shop and every magazine at a store. Write down every single time you spend money or swipe a card. Doing this will give you a real idea of where your money goes — and where you can cut back, if need be.

4. Keep a personal money statement going.

At the beginning of the month, start a monthly money statement. You can do this in a spreadsheet on the computer or just a piece of paper that you pin to the bulletin board. Write down your goals, such as paying towards a debt, saving money for an emergency fund, saving towards the purchase of a car, that sort of thing. Each week, square up the statement, writing down for each week how much you contributed to those accounts or saved towards a certain goal. Write down next to each goal the motivation to pursue that goal. Use a quote or statement of affirmation, if it helps. Try something like, “Pay yourself first. You’re worth it. And your grand kids will thank you.”

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5. Revamp your routine as necessary.

After an initial trial period, go over your routine and revamp it. Maybe paying that one bill at the beginning of the month just didn’t work out. Maybe you forgot about another bill. Perhaps you were a little ambitious with your saving plan. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly. And don’t forget to be flexible too. Life changes, you need to be able to adapt your weekly money routine to new things. Also, don’t forget to change a bit with the seasons. If you do a lot more visiting or vacationing in the summer, adjust your plan for that as well!

Featured photo credit: University of Utah via unews.utah.edu

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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